Include the Element of Intent in Hate Crimes to Help Report More Offenses

Intent in Hate Crimes

Target: United States Department of Justice

Goal: Include the element of intent in hate crime laws so more hate-related offenses are reported

Sometimes property damage, assault and especially serious offenses like murder or attempted murder that are motivated by bias are not charged as hate crimes. In these cases prosecutors only have to prove that the offender committed a crime. In order for these crimes to be reported as hate crimes, the element of intent should be included in hate crime laws.

Hate crime charges tend to be more difficult to prove because of the additional evidentiary burden at trial, but proving the element of intent is not unique to hate crimes. Many criminal offenses require additional elements of intent to be proven, but hate crime laws do not include intent as a motivation for committing crimes.

If the state can prove both elements of the charge – the commitment of the crime and the intent of committing it based on discrimination against race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability – the offender would be subject to higher penalties. The FBI is required to issue an annual report with the total number of hate crimes reported by law enforcement authorities nationwide. Having the element of intent count towards reporting these crimes would also help the Federal Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA) to classify and report more hate crimes.

It is important that the state can report more hate crimes so it is possible to demonstrate the seriousness with which the society addresses hate violence. Sign the petition below to have the element of intent written in the hate crime laws and help more victims get justice.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear United States Department of Justice,

Property damage, assault and sometimes serious offenses like murder or attempted murder, which are motivated by bias, are sometimes not reported as hate crimes. This comes as a result of the prosecutor only having to prove that a crime was committed without an obligation to prove intent.

Adding the element of intent in hate crime laws would mean higher penalties for the perpetrator, get more crimes reported and accounted for as hate crimes by the Federal Hate Crime Statistics Act (HCSA), as well as demonstrate the seriousness with which the society addresses hate violence.

I urge you to add the element of intent in hate crime laws for crimes that are motivated by the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability. Help the victims get justice against hate violence and make it easier for hate crimes to be proven and recorded.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: HeadOvMetal via Flickr

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167 Signatures

  • Alice Rim
  • Eric von Borstel
  • Hermann Kastner
  • James Thrailkill
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • Nancy Petersen
  • Holly Hall
  • Frédérique Pommarat
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